On Tuesday morning, TWRA shared a photo to its social media featuring the Kingston man, Henry Dyer, with his state record paddlefish which weighs a whopping 149 pounds and measures 79 and 5/8″ long and 44 and 3/8″ in girth. Dyer reeled in the prehistoric-looking gilled creature out of Cherokee Lake.
TWRA regulations state that paddlefish may be harvested from April 24 through May 31, but Cherokee Lake has a different season and there are other exceptions pertaining to paddlefish on Center Hill, Cherokee, and Watts Bar reservoirs. These exceptions can be found in the 2023-2024 fishing regulations guide, which states that Paddlefish on Cherokee Lake can be limited to 1 per day with no length limit, from April 1-15. Culling is prohibited.
The state’s “Angler’s Guide to Tennessee Fish” states that paddlefish are commonly found in reservoirs where they have adapted and they feed primarily on plankton strained from the water and occasionally on very small fish inadvertently strained during feeding.
Paddlefish are usually found in mainstream reservoirs of the Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippi river systems.
Tennessee Paddlefish average 36″ in length and the previous state record listed in the Angler’s Guide was 104 pounds; however, another angler caught a state record paddlefish back in August 2022 – also on Cherokee Lake – which weighed 120 pounds.
Cherokee Lake was formed in 1942 when the Tennessee Valley Authority built Cherokee Dam on the Holston River for power sourcing.